Where did you grow up?
What was your favorite subject in school?
Did you have a favorite teacher?
Yes. My science teacher, who encouraged me to never be afraid to dream and discover.
What do you do?
I look at the world like you do, always wondering what is it made of, and how its pieces are put together. I am a scientist. That is a big fancy word for a person who explores new things and discovers secrets about the world. Scientists and engineers like to solve puzzles and build things. I worked with a team of people to design the International Space Station (ISS). We drew pictures of how we thought it should look. Then we began to make small models of the ISS. Next, we began to think of the best way to build it so people could live there. We also had to figure out how to pack all the pieces of the ISS in the Shuttle spacecraft. Kind of like packing your suitcase. The pieces are brought up into orbit and then put together. I also worked with the Ground Support and the Flight and Orbital Equipment. The Ground Support Equipment tests the Space Station components before they launch into orbit to make sure they are working properly. Flight and Orbital Equipment is what the astronauts use to perform jobs for the IS0
When I was a student…
I lived and played on a small farm with lots of animals. I wondered what made rainbows, and why sunsets were always red. I wondered about a lot of things and wanted to find the answers. I made paper airplanes and flew them to see if they could touch the clouds. Some would fly long distances. Some crashed! But I always learned from my mistakes. There were no astronauts then. But I knew someday, people would fly in rockets and go to the stars. That was my dream.
When I got older…
I wanted to be in the space program. I knew that it would be hard work and I would have to learn new things. I liked math and always studied hard because I knew one day my dreams would come true. But I had to make them happen! Anything good and worthwhile takes effort. When I went to work for NASA, I saw my dream come true.
Now, I have a really cool job…
It was fun to make pictures of the International Space Station and then build it. The Space Station is our first home in space! We had to make it work so people like you and me could live, work and play there. Someday, we may even build homes on the Moon or other planets. Where would you like to live? Would you take your dog or cat with you? I bet they would have funny looking space suits!
What are your hobbies?
Playing the guitar and Indian flute
Who is your hero?
Besides my mother, Albert Einstein
Special Note: Jerry Elliott was awarded The Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Richard Nixon for his duties as a Retrofire Officer during the Apollo 13 accident, and the safe return of the Apollo astronauts. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian honor in the United States.